June 8, 1998 Do you need to drink red wine in order to get the potentially beneficial compounds found in grapes that act as antioxidants? Apparently not, according to a new chemical report in the June 4th Web edition of the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry, published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
Grape pomace, the residue remaining when grapes are processed for wine-making, may also be a rich source of these antioxidants, says Anne S. Meyer, Ph.D. at the Technical University of Denmark in Lyngby, Denmark. Using a red grape pomace from a California winery, Meyer and her coworkers were able to extract compounds called phenolics that--in test tube studies-- significantly retarded the oxidation of human low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol. Dietary antioxidants that protect LDL from oxidation may play a role in preventing coronary heart disease, Meyer says.
Over 4 million tons of grape pomace are produced annually, but it is currently used as a cattle feed, a soil conditioner, or sent to a landfill. Meyer suggests that her work may be useful in the commercial exploitation of grape pomace for production of antioxidant concentrates. Grape seed extract is already widely sold as a nutritional supplement, she says. But she cautions that more research is needed to determine the exact physiological significance of the grape phenolics as antioxidants with nutritional benefits.
A nonprofit organization with a membership of more than 155,000 chemists and chemical engineers, the American Chemical Society publishes scientific journals, convenes major research conferences, and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.
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